Daily Archives: July 11, 2010

27X more empty houses than Homeless people

According to a USA Today article from February 2009, there were 14 million vacant homes, including owned homes that were vacant or homes that were unsold. There were, at the same time, approximately 4,800,000 *VACATION HOMES* that people owned and only lived in part of the time.

Let’s consider the wealthy Hollywood elites, these so-called liberals, who supposedly care so much about the poor, but have how many mansions to their names?

Then there are all the empty buildings that sit there with nothing in them as new storefronts are put up in new locations.

Now, what about the homeless?

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness (and you’d think they’d have cause to exaggerate figures), there are only about 672,000 homeless on any given night.

According to other statistics on their site, 42% of that number are not in shelters, so that means there are about 282,240 people each night living on the streets or in tents, etc.

OK, now, those totals include families, so we can assume a reduction in housing units needed based upon families.

But let’s look at those numbers together.

If we total *ALL* vacant or vacation housing in the US, compared to the total homeless population, there are 28 unoccupied houses for every homeless man, woman and child.

There are 7 vacation homes for every homeless man, woman and child. That means that of people who have the extra money to afford 2 homes, there are 7 times that many families as there are homeless people. Again, that’s not breaking down the homeless into families, married couples, roommates, or other ways of sharing housing.

If you consider that a certain percentage of the population have *multiple* vacation homes, then how many people could they house by themselves?

And then let’s talk about those who aren’t in shelters:
If we leave the shelters in operation and only look to house the completely homeless population, then that means there are 67 EMPTY HOUSES PER EVERY PERSON WHO SLEEPS ON THE STREET, with 17 vacation homes per street-sleeper.

Again, this is not even considering vacant commercial properties that sit empty, collecting debt, rather than doing something useful.

I don’t see how anyone who claims to believe in the right to life, in the dignity of the human person, or in Christianity can look at such statistics and not shudder. I don’t see how anyone can feel right voting for the rich–be they rich Democrats or rich Republicans–and not shudder at those statistics. I don’t see how anyone who has an ounce of compassion can stand listening to Limbaugh or Beck or Hannity (or Brokaw or Gore or Franken) knowing those statistics.

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Some quotes from Popes on how the Church’s social and moral teaching are inseparable.

This fantastic article by some theologically orthodox Catholic Worker people observes that there are two kinds of “Cafeteria Catholics”:
1) the ones who reject _Mater et Magistra_
2) the ones who reject _Humanae Vitae_.
(Though I always argue, as demonstrated below, that rejection of _Mater et Magistra_ is also rejection of the teaching on contraception).
The ones who rejected _Humanae Vitae_ built their arguments on the groundwork laid by the ones who rejected _Mater et Magistra_ 5 years before.

In Veritatis Splendor, John Paul II kind of ties it all together by focusing an entire encyclical on the story of the “Rich Young Man,” explaining the difference between positive and negative commandments, and saying that the universal call to holiness means we must all work to be as perfect as possible in following God’s positive law.

Perfection demands that maturity in self-giving to which human freedom is called.

–John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor

Today not a few of the powerful of the earth act in the same way. They too are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries. Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person’s inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive programme of birth control. Even the economic help which they would be ready to give is unjustly made conditional on the acceptance of an anti-birth policy.

Evangelium Vitae, Para. 16

Aside from intentions, which can be varied and perhaps can seem convincing at times, especially if presented in the name of solidarity, we are in fact faced by an objective “conspiracy against life”, involving even international Institutions, engaged in encouraging and carrying out actual campaigns to make contraception, sterilization and abortion widely available. Nor can it be denied that the mass media are often implicated in this conspiracy, by lending credit to that culture which presents recourse to contraception, sterilization, abortion and even euthanasia as a mark of progress and a victory of freedom, while depicting as enemies of freedom and progress those positions which are unreservedly pro-life.

Evangelium Vitae, Para. 18

187 . . . Accordingly, the standard of living in these poorer countries cannot possibly improve. It must surely worsen, even to the point of extreme hardship. Hence there are those who hold the opinion that, in order to prevent a serious crisis from developing, the conception and birth of children should be secretly avoided, or, in any event, curbed in some way. . . .
188. Truth to tell, we do not seem to be faced with any immediate or imminent world problem arising from the disproportion between the increase of population and the supply of food. Arguments to this effect are based on such unreliable and controversial data that they can only be of very uncertain validity.
. . .
190. As for the problems which face the poorer nations in various parts of the world, We realize, of course, that these are very real. They are caused, more often than not, by a deficient economic and social organization, which does not offer living conditions proportionate to the increase in population. They are caused, also, by the lack of effective solidarity among such peoples.

191. But granting this, We must nevertheless state most emphatically that no statement of the problem and no solution to it is acceptable which does violence to man’s essential dignity; those who propose such solutions base them on an utterly materialistic conception of man himself and his life.

. . .
[192] Attention must then be turned to the need for worldwide co-operation among men, with a view to a fruitful and well-regulated interchange of useful knowledge, capital and manpower.
. . .
193. We must solemnly proclaim that human life is transmitted by means of the family, and the family is based upon a marriage which is one and indissoluble and, with respect to Christians, raised to the dignity of a sacrament. The transmission of human life is the result of a personal and conscious act, and, as such, is subject to the all-holy, inviolable and immutable laws of God, which no man may ignore or disobey. He is not therefore permitted to use certain ways and means which are allowable in the propagation of plant and animal life.

194. Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact. From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God. Those who violate His laws not only offend the divine majesty and degrade themselves and humanity, they also sap the vitality of the political community of which they are members. . . .
. . .

199. A provident God grants sufficient means to the human race to find a dignified solution to the problems attendant upon the transmission of human life. But these problems can become difficult of solution, or even insoluble, if man, led astray in mind and perverted in will, turns to such means as are opposed to right reason, and seeks ends that are contrary to his social nature and the intentions of Providence.

–Bl. Pope John XXIII, _Mater et Magistra_

Capitalism is not the same as a Free Market

Here is a fantastic column on the death of capitalism. The author is obviously not a Christian, but then again he’s against the kind of Christianity promoted by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, which conflates Mammon with the God of Abraham. In any case, while the God is obviously liberal, and uses a lot of profanity, he has a great analysis of the state of capitalism, and its fundamental flaws.

1. The US makes a great deal about its alleged prosperity and ingenuity and innovation yet forgets how that prosperity has always been based upon virtual slave labor: literal slave labor, indentured servants, foreigners in sweatshops, illegal immigrants, etc. Indeed, my one criticism is he refers to “non-whites” but neglects how the Irish and Eastern Europeans were treated just as badly as “non-whites,” if not worse.

2. Economics as a science is a bunch of nonsense, big words used to cover up simple concepts so people don’t really understand what’s being said.

3. “Money making money” is a fiction. It was the cause of the Great Depression, the cause of every stock market crash in history, and it will be the cause of the ever worse Depression we’re going into. There’s a great scene in _Wall Street_ where Hal Holbrook’s character says, “I’ll never forgive Nixon for getting rid of the Gold Standard.” He then goes on to predict everything that’s happened in our economy over the past 20 years.

4. Real value comes from natural resources and labor. Capitalism presumes that labor is an unnecessary burden and that natural resources are limitless.

But one of the great lies that misleads many people is that Capitalism is the “free market.” Capitalism is NOT the Free Market. How is a Market free if it’s dominated by a handful of billionaires? How is the control of a few billionaires any different than socialism, where the government owns and controls everything?

A free market is one where people are free to earn money and free to spend it. That cannot happen *without* regulation, without government pograms of some sort. Distributism teaches that the real value is in the land and in the labor, and that each person has a right to a piece of land and the right to own his or her own labor.

That’s why socialism is *NOT* in accordance with Catholic social teaching: socialism gives power and ownership to the government, not to the workers.

In a truly free market, there would never be unemployment, because each person would be able to find a way to make a living.

In capitalism, you can have a “jobless recovery” because we’re told that economic prosperity is measured by how much money rich people have: fire thousands of people, costs go down, stocks go up, and rich people have more money. VOILA ! Economic recovery while people with Master’s degrees are lining up at soup kitchens.

You cannot serve two masters, Our Lord told us!

“No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him.

(Lk 16:13-14)